Public Diplomacy

Emma Diltz at Department of State’s Press Office

The Office of Press Relations at the U.S. Department of State is the hub of media activity at the Department. It works directly with journalists to disseminate the Department and Secretary’s messages to the media and the public concerning U.S. foreign policy. It also helps staff the Secretary’s events and travel, whether domestic or abroad.

As an intern, I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know how the Department functions. I also helped staff multiple events, such as the roll out of the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, and the 230th anniversary of the Department of State. While working, I have met dignitaries from different countries and helped members of the press gain access to cover events.

Emma Diltz had the opportunity to staff the 230th anniversary celebration where Dr. Henry Kissinger spoke

While these major events were interesting to experience, and they change based on administration, the main day-to-day functions are consistent and what keeps the office running. Much of my job consisted of working with journalists to understand the major topics of the day and delivering those queries to the various bureaus’ Public Affairs Officers. They delivered their guidance to the spokesperson on those queries so then she is ready to answer them at the podium on press briefing days. On days the spokesperson and Secretary traveled, I compiled the virtual guidance into a memo and sent it to the officer director, who delivered it to the spokesperson.

As the press office, it’s the outreach team’s job to set up interviews for the Secretary. This includes knowing who is interviewing him. Part of my job as an intern was to write short biographies of journalists who were interviewing him, and draft that into a memo for his front office.

Emma Diltz, Department of State, Press Brieffings room
A regular part of Emma Diltz’s internship was helping and attending Department Press Briefings.

Much of my internship allowed me the opportunity to shadow press officers and understand the rotations they do in their jobs. Each officer has a different task every day, and through my time at the Department, I now have a better understanding of each. The Fourth Estate continues to be one of the most important pillars of democracy, even when leadership doesn’t always see it that way.

While we’re in a tumultuous time with the way the government interacts with the media, my few months at the Department of State Office of Press Relations showed that, regardless of the message coming from the heads of the departments, there are truly good people doing important work in these agencies. The collaborative effort by the press office and the journalists showed that there doesn’t need to be animosity between the groups, and there’s much more room for understanding than it looks like from the outside.

Emma Diltz is currently finishing a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of Science in Public Relations degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
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Maggie Callahan Gets Rewards Tenfold with Aythos in Nepal

Nepal is not for the faint of heart. In the two months I lived there, I vomited from dust induced coughing a dozen times; made countless emergency visits to a squatty potty; got over 20 bed bug bites and seven leach bites; rode in a jeep with people hanging off the sides and sitting on the roof up a narrow winding mountain road; and survived countless motorbike rides through rush hour traffic without holding on to the man driving. Surprisingly, I would do it again, and I would recommend an Aythos Nepal internship to anyone ready to overcome these challenges for rewards tenfold.

Maggie Callahan assisting with health education
Maggie Callahan (2nd from left) assisting in women’s reproductive health trainings in Kathmandu

As an Aythos Nepal intern, no two days are alike, but each day brings new tasks and ways to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the work of the organization. My days in the office ranged from: leading and planning evaluation and monitoring trainings for staff, formulating needs assessments and surveys, researching for women’s empowerment and agriculture projects, assisting in program planning, and cutting out fabric pads for upcoming trainings.

My days outside the office, however, were my favorite. In the field, I hiked along the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen, learned and performed local dances, assisted in feminine hygiene and sustainable livelihood projects, and traveled to parts of Nepal that tourists never see. As for the places tourists see, my time off during the weekends and flexible schedule allowed me to travel to well traversed areas of Nepal as well.

Maggie Callahan at Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal

Ultimately, my internship with Aythos Nepal was one of the most challenging experiences of my graduate school career. It pushed me out of my comfort zone professionally, culturally, physically, and mentally. It was an immeasurably valuable opportunity to constantly practice and refine the intercultural communication and program planning and evaluation skills that will be the cornerstone of my future career. For students ready for the challenge and eager to have an internship that gives them real experience, Aythos Nepal is the perfect fit.

Maggie Callahan is completing her joint MAIR/MSPR degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse schools at Syracuse University.

Maggie Callan at a Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal
Maggie Callahan (Center) with her Aythos colleagues
Maggie Callahan (center) and her two supervisors at Aythos, Shanti Magar (left) and Samikshya Shrestha (right)
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Leah Knobel Furthers Understanding of Human Rights

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, non profit organization dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,600 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who work for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

Leah Knobel at the National Endowment for Democracy
Leah Knobel at NED

This summer, I had the opportunity to serve in the Endowment’s Office for Governmental Relations and Public Affairs; the office is responsible for maintaining relationships and strengthening NED’s reputation with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for our annual appropriation, as well as all communication functions of the organization.

As an intern, I worked on a diverse set of initiatives and projects. On a weekly basis, my responsibilities included cultivating a weekly update of legislation and hearings of relevance to NED, writing memos for hearings attended on the Hill, fulfilling FOIA requests, scheduling meetings with lawmakers and their staff, and assisting the public affairs team with communications outreach. I also worked on several long-term projects, including an extensive media list and the digitization of NED’s Annual Report .

I was fortunate to attend some of the Endowment’s major events. My first week coincided with NED’s annual Democracy Awards, which honored three defenders of human and religious rights in China. The Endowment regularly hosts discussions, panels, and guest speakers at its office; I attended countless events featuring experts in the areas of democracy promotion and human rights.

My experience with NED has helped refine and further my understanding of the world’s most pressing human rights issues and how the Endowment addresses them by supporting civil society movements abroad. My exposure to government and congressional relations work was by far one of the most valuable takeaways of my summer–the insight into Capitol Hill and the skills gained will serve me well into the future as a public diplomacy professional.

Leah Knobel is a MAIR/MSPR student at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University.

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Molly Martin, Strategic Communications at USAID

This summer I had the opportunity to put my public diplomacy classes to work at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. As a Strategic Communications intern in the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, I got help tell USAID’s story to the American people and the world.

LPA is responsible for managing and coordinating the Agency’s external affairs, making it the perfect spot for me as I work towards a dual degree in Public Relations and International Relations in the Public Diplomacy program at Syracuse. Although there was no “typical day” in LPA, my main responsibilities included everything from editing blog posts from USAID missions around the world (like this one from North Macedonia), to pitching and writing my own blogs, to building social media toolkits for Agency newsletters, to joining high-level meetings with senior leadership and external partners.

LPA serves as USAID’s central point of contact with Congress, the media, and the international development community, which gave me a lot of exposure to many different parts of the development space. The LPA team encourages their interns to take advantage of the countless think tank panels, Congressional hearings, and USAID events happening around town, which really helped me connect what I was learning in the classroom to the real world.

Some of the highlights include representing USAID at Congressional hearings on the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and protests in Somalia (see if you can spot me in Rep. Bass’s tweet), attending a talk by Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Nadia Murad, and helping USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance team launch the new US Government Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at the White House.

Molly Martin working hard at the launch of the new USG Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at
the White House.

Although I was nearly 400 miles away from campus, I still felt close to SU. One of the best parts of my DC experience was connecting with Syracuse alums and students based in the area. Their advice and insight into DC life has been so helpful throughout the summer and as I get ready to finish my degree in Washington this spring!

Molly Martin at USAID
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Michaela Eagan, Cultural Diplomacy in Brussels

Interning at the Cultural Diplomacy Platform this summer I had a front-row seat to the EU’s implementation of the EU Strategy for international cultural relations. As an instrument of the European Commission, the Platform was launched in 2014 to engage third countries and their citizens through the medium of culture.

Prior to my internship, the Platform had received two requests for literary exchanges in 2018 and two more for the fall of 2019. Since literary exchanges were a new development for the Platform, with more anticipated requests in the future, I was tasked with developing a policy recommendation report on how to evaluate exchange requests, choose appropriate literary actors and measure the outcomes and success of the exchange. As a new initiative, my goal was to set out a policy framework to conduct purposeful cultural diplomacy within the literary sector.

In tandem with this project, I worked with the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL), Creative Europe and Literature Across Frontiers to bring award-winning authors to the New Delhi World Book Fair and the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

My internship provided me the opportunity to attend the annual European Development Days — a two-day event that brings together actors in the development sector from around the world to exchange ideas and innovations as well as debate the globe’s greatest development needs. Culture, gender, sustainability, inequality, healthcare, technology and politics were topics of discussion.

As a Public Diplomacy student, it was a rewarding experience to take theories out of the classroom and implement them in tangible ways through the day-to-day activities of cultural diplomacy.

Michaela Eagan is pursuing a joint MAIR/MSPR at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University.

From left: Johnathan Medina, Michaela Eagan and Frederico Ohle in front of the St. Michael Statue Fountain at Sainte Catherines, Brussels
MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels
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Linsey Armstrong Empowers Women in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) at the U.S. Department of State seeks to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy. S/GWI’s priority areas include: women, peace and security; adolescent girls; women’s economic empowerment; and gender-based violence. This spring, I had the opportunity to serve this office as one of two interns for the semester.

As an intern, I worked on numerous events and initiatives for the office including the 2019 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award and the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. For these events and initiatives, I drafted talking points and other communications, as well as assisted with event planning, scheduling and coordination. I was also able to represent the office at public outreach events like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s International Women’s Day Forum and attend sessions at the 2019 Spring Meeting of the World Bank/IMF. Additionally, this internship provided me with opportunities to learn about press relations when volunteering for IWOC and the 70th NATO Ministerial.

Linsey Armstrong

Throughout my internship, I followed a rotation system that allowed me to shadow members of our functional policy, programming and regional teams. This rotation system was incredibly helpful, as I was able to gain strong insight into how intraoffice teams collaborate and work together to advance the S/GWI’s priorities. Throughout these rotations, I was invited to attend meetings with other DOS bureaus and civil society organizations, as well as work on substantive projects for each team. These experiences provided me a comprehensive view of U.S. foreign policy making and programming efforts.

My experience working for S/GWI was incredibly rewarding and helped me grow in countless ways. I was able to refine and further my understanding of multilateral fora and international organizations, foreign policy, issues affecting women and girls, and governmental communications processes. I was also able to develop writing, research and organizational skills. Working in a diverse office with passionate and intelligent advocates who work to champion women globally was incredible. This internship also provided me with great insight into the work of the U.S Department of State and the U.S. government as a whole.

Linsey Armstrong graduated with a joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree in May 2019. During the spring, she interned at the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State as part of the Washington Public Diplomacy Program.

Linsey Armstrong attending the 2019 International Women of Courage Award ceremony and reception, featuring special guests Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and First Lady of the United States Melania Trump.

Linsey Armstrong Reaches Global Audiences

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Yue Chen Has Front Row Seat on US-China Trade

Over the spring, I served as a communications intern at the US-China Business Council (USCBC) in Washington, DC. USCBC is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of approximately 200 American companies that do business with China. Its mission is to expand the US-China commercial relationship to the benefit of its membership and, more broadly, the US economy.

Based on my background in international relations and public relations, I helped the communications & publications team at USCBC with daily news updates and social media management. I also helped interview Chinese scholars and translate documents into English for the publication in USCBC’s digital magazine – the China Business Review. Since the U.S. levied its first round of punitive tariffs in 2018, tensions have emerged between the U.S. and China, becoming a major global concern. It was a valuable opportunity for me to intern at USCBC around this period of time as I was able to obtain the first-hand materials and pay close attention to US-China trade issues.

In addition, I was very fortunate to have joined and helped with USCBC’s events and gained precious insights on US-China relations. When Chinese Premier Liu He visited Washington, DC for trade talks with President Trump on January 31, USCBC held its premier conference – Forecast 2019 – on China’s business and political environment and discussed the prospects of trade negotiations. On the Forecast, experts from think tanks, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives talked about the most focused on issues about US-China relations such as cybersecurity, intellectual property, tariffs and subsidies, etc. USCBC also co-hosted the US-China Innovation Forum with CSIS, where American and Chinese representatives from industry, finance, government and think tanks discussed how to best foster, protect, and advance innovation.

Thanks to the Maxwell DC Program, I am here to pursue my public diplomacy practice at the heart of global policy in Washington, DC. Interning at USCBC was a great chance for me to explore US-China trade relations and lay the foundation for my future career.

USCBC Forcast 2019 conference

Yue Chen is a recent alum of the joint MAIR/MSPR degree where she studied at the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University. She formerly interned at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre through SU’s Summer Internships in Singapore program.

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Linsey Armstrong Reaches Global Audiences

Women Political Leaders (WPL) Global Forum is a nonprofit and nonpartisan global network of female politicians, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians and Mayors. This summer, I had the opportunity to serve this organization as a communications intern, working to further the organization’s mission of increasing the number and influence of women in political leadership roles across the globe.

As a member of the communications team, I worked on numerous initiatives, campaigns and events under the organization’s umbrella, including WPL Summit 2018, the #Girl2Leader campaign and the Women Leaders Global Forum event. For these events and campaigns, I coordinated and implemented multi-channel communications plans. My primary tasks included: branding and strategy implementation; social media content creation, management, reporting and analysis; graphic design; copyediting and proofreading; media and press relations; and campaign coordination with current and former women political leaders. I was also able to represent the organization at outreach events with partners and was given the opportunity to attend the global launch of the #SheIsEqual campaign.

Linsey Armstrong (right) Attending the launch of the #SheIsEqual campaign

A task near and dear to my heart was coordinating communications for the #Girl2Leader campaign, which aims to get girls involved with and interested in politics. I was provided the freedom to try new things and grow the brand’s social media presence in innovative ways. It was rewarding to be promoting a cause that can have such a vital impact on the world.

My experience working for WPL was incredibly rewarding and helped me grow in countless ways. I was able to refine and further my strategic communications and graphic design skills, as well as explore other opportunities like media outreach and press relations. Working in a diverse, multicultural office that communicates with global audiences was a valuable experience. This internship also provided me with great insight into the structure of international nonprofits and working with high-level political leaders from around the world.

I am excited to be continuing my work for WPL remotely while returning to school in Syracuse!

Linsey Armstrong is pursuing her joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree  in Spring 2019.

Linsey Armstrong outside the WPL office in Brussels, just down the street from the European Commission

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

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Assil Alnaser Focuses on European Media in Brussels

The Brussels program gave me the opportunity to complete an internship with OPEN Media Hub. OMH is a project for networking, on-the-job training, and support to media professionals across the EU Neighborhood. The project is funded by the EU and implemented by a consortium led by Thomson Foundation (UK), including Action Global Communications Ltd (Cyprus), European Journalism Centre (Netherlands), France Medias Monde (France), Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), Market & Opinion Research International Ltd (Ipsos MORI) (UK) and Particip GmbH (Germany). The project includes a series of capacity building, production and networking activities, including the organization of a number of different types of training and exchange events for journalists in each of the 17 countries in the Neighborhood area of the EU.

The main advantage of the Brussels internship is the various networking opportunities. The time of the program is full of events and conferences. By following these events, I had a fantastic opportunity to meet different people working on Middle Eastern and migration issues.  Another advantage of this internship is that it helped me to identify the particular area to write for my independent study. Working in the media sector helped me understand the media impact on migration policies in Europe. It gave me the courage to write on the topic. I met many figures in the field and did  semi-structured interviews with them for my independent study. It is also worth mentioning that having an internship in Brussels is so beneficial for your CV as it demonstrates experience in various countries.

European Commission

On the whole, the Brussels program was a useful experience. I have gained new knowledge, skills and met many new people from different fields. I achieved several of my learning goals. I got insight into professional practice. I learned the various sides of working within a European institution. It has also improved my skills in reporting for media and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment.

The speakers’ sessions that were part of the course were linked directly to working with European institutions. This program was an excellent opportunity to test out the skills that I developed in Maxwell. For example, I transferred the academic writing skills that I learned in Maxwell to write a featured article that was published on the OMH website.

I am satisfied with my experience in Brussels as it perfectly matched my career plans to gain more expertise, as well as more exposure to different organizational systems in order to become a better professional.

Assil Alnasser is a recent graduate of the Maxwell School’s MAIR program.

Assil Alnaser in Brussels
2018 SU Brussels Program Participants

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Amery Sanders, LGBTI Rights at European Parliament

Amery Sanders is a MAIR student focusing on human rights.

From May 25th through July 14th, I lived and worked in Brussels as part of Syracuse University’s Public Diplomacy program.  While not a Public Diplomacy student myself—I’m a graduate student pursuing the MA International Relations (MAIR) degree—I chose the Brussels program for its abundance of opportunities in my interest areas of human rights, diplomacy, and international NGO work.  I was incredibly fortunate enough to secure an internship at the Brussels seat of the European Parliament, one of the three core legislative institutions of the European Union.  I served as a trainee in the office of dynamic Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Amery Sanders’ last day at work, below the third-floor bridge of the EU Parliament bearing the official institutional logo

I reached out to MEP Pietikäinen’s office because of her work in the leadership of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, a coordinated cross-party effort by MEPs to advance and support the rights of LGBTI people.  As a queer graduate student with a professional and academic focus in international transgender human rights, securing a place in her office meant I was able to work right at the heart of the European Union’s LGBTI-centric activities while also gaining in-depth understanding of EU institutional and legislative work.

During my seven weeks in Brussels, I split my time between doing administrative work for the MEP, working with Intergroup Secretariat Juliette Sanchez-Lambert, and doing research around the MEP’s special interest areas of queer freedom of movement, employment discrimination, partner and family rights, health care discrimination, and asylum rights.  I attended Parliament events around LGBTI issues and was privileged to be able to attend the 7th European Transgender Council, an annual conference hosted by TGEU, the largest transnational member organization of transgender activists in Europe.  Over the course of the internship I worked to develop a reference packet on individual LGBTI topics, to be used by MEPs and other officials as a resource guide in the lead up to the 2019 parliamentary elections.  Of especial significance to me personally, I was asked to give critical feedback on the Fundamental Rights Agency’s EU LGBT Survey; my critiques and suggestions were taken to a Vienna meeting to help determine the structure and content of the next version of the survey.

Materials from the 7th European Transgender Council, including their Strategic Plan, self-critical Anti-Activity Report, policy supporting sex workers, and guide for working with the United Nations

Brussels was a city both beautiful and politically complex, and I was deeply satisfied by my time there—by the work I was able to do, the connections I was able to make, and the knowledge I was able to gain.  I feel like I was able to get exactly the glimpse “behind the curtain” of transnational LGBTI-centric rights work that I have heretofore been unable to access.  It’s re-energized me in a way I could only have hoped for, and which I think will serve me well as I go forward in my academics and my career.

Exterior view of the European Parliament building in Brussels–or at least one small corner of it!

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree